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CASE STUDY 1 Modular House

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Unable to resist the temptation of off-site modular construction, we have developed a new town house. We reconfigured a standard modular unit to improve its spatial efficiency, creating a habitable floor area of 120m 2 - a 25 per cent increase. Only two deliveries are needed per house. The dwelling touches the ground lightly: a central structural core constructed from Kerto (a strong Finnforest Merk product) allows the two wings to span out with little additional foundation.

Playing its part in the great British typology of terraced houses, the design strikes a new profile due to the logic of off-site construction and the volumetric configuration of spaces that allow natural ventilation, maximisation of daylight and the opportunity to reconfigure. We aspire to a modular home that does not look or feel modular; it must not creak when you move between rooms.

The perception of prefabricated architecture in the UK as the boxy, cheap, poor-quality alternative to traditional construction is under review. A general resurgence has boosted the public perception. Prefab is now more extra-virgin olive oil than powdered egg. In Japan, Scandinavia and the US, the prefab is more about convenience, freedom and doing your own thing; with available technology we can now offer bespoke architectural solutions at the price of mass production.

It is easy to view the prefabricated home as a piece of industrial design that must meet the standards people expect from a product such as their car or latest electrical gadgets. It must do exactly what it is supposed to do and should be built accordingly. That's true, yet here we are designing a durable piece of architecture, not a consumable.

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